Paroxetine is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) utilized in the treatment of various psychiatric disorders such as depression, panic disorder, characterized by sudden and unexpected attacks of fear and anxiety, and social anxiety disorder, a condition marked by intense fear of social interaction or performance.
Paroxetine tablets and suspension are also effective in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder, characterized by repetitive thoughts and behaviors, generalized anxiety disorder, marked by excessive and uncontrollable worrying, and post-traumatic stress disorder, resulting from traumatic experiences.
The extended-release form of paroxetine is further approved for the treatment of premenstrual dysphoric disorder, which is associated with physical and psychological symptoms prior to the menstrual cycle.
Paroxetine works by restoring the balance of serotonin, a neurotransmitter, in the brain. The medication can improve mood, sleep, appetite, and energy levels, as well as increase interest in daily activities. It may also reduce fear, anxiety, unwanted thoughts, and panic attacks, as well as decrease the urge to perform compulsive behaviors.
Uses and Dosage
The medication should be taken orally, with or without food, as directed by your doctor, typically once daily in the morning. If drowsiness occurs during the day, your doctor may recommend taking the medication in the evening. Dosage is based on your medical condition, response to treatment, age, and other concurrent medications.
Inform your doctor and pharmacist of all products you are using, including prescription and non-prescription drugs, as well as herbal products. Your doctor may start with a low dose and gradually increase it to reduce the risk of side effects.
Take the medication regularly to achieve the maximum benefit and to take it at the same time each day to help with recall. If being used for premenstrual problems, your doctor may instruct you to take the medication every day of the month or only during the two weeks prior to your period through the first full day of your period.
Do not discontinue the medication without consulting your doctor as some conditions may worsen upon sudden cessation. Gradual dose reduction may be necessary to prevent symptoms such as mood swings, headache, fatigue, sleep changes, and brief electric shock-like sensations.
It may take several weeks to experience the full benefits of the medication. If your condition does not improve or worsens, it is important to inform your doctor.
Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention:
- acid or sour stomach
- decreased appetite
- pain or tenderness around the eyes and cheekbones
- passing gas
- problems with urinating
- runny or stuffy nose
- sleepiness or unusual drowsiness
- stomach discomfort or upset
- trouble sleeping
Inform your healthcare provider immediately if you experience any serious side effects:
- chest pain or tightness
- cold sweats
- difficulty with breathing
- dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up from a lying or sitting position
- fast, pounding, or irregular heartbeat or pulse
- muscle pain or weakness
- skin rash
Prior to administering paroxetine, inform your physician or pharmacist if you are allergic to the medication or have any other allergies. This medication may contain inactive ingredients that could cause allergic reactions or other adverse effects.
Share your medical history, including personal or family history of bipolar/manic-depressive disorder, personal or family history of suicide attempts, liver problems, kidney problems, seizures, low sodium levels in the blood, history of intestinal ulcers or bleeding (peptic ulcer disease) or bleeding problems, and personal or family history of glaucoma (angle-closure type) with your doctor or pharmacist before taking this medication.
Paroxetine may cause dizziness, drowsiness, or blur your vision. The consumption of alcohol or marijuana may amplify these effects. Avoid operating heavy machinery or engaging in activities that require alertness or clear vision until you are able to do so safely.
Elderly individuals may be more susceptible to the side effects of paroxetine, particularly bleeding or loss of coordination. They may also be at a higher risk of developing a salt imbalance (hyponatremia), especially if they are also taking diuretics. The risk of falling may increase due to loss of coordination.
Paroxetine is not recommended for use during pregnancy as it may harm the fetus and babies born to mothers who have taken it in the last 3 months of pregnancy may exhibit withdrawal symptoms such as feeding/breathing difficulties, seizures, muscle stiffness, or constant crying. Paroxetine is excreted into breast milk, so it is advisable to consult your doctor before breastfeeding.
Form and Strength
Paxil is available in the following forms and strengths:
How long does it take for Paxil to kick in?
It usually takes between 4 and 6 weeks before you feel the full benefits. Do not stop taking paroxetine after a week or two just because you feel it is not helping your symptoms. Give the medicine at least 6 weeks to work.
How do you know if Paxil is working?
Sleep, energy, or appetite may show some improvement within the first 1-2 weeks. Improvement in these physical symptoms can be an important early signal that the medication is working.